LAbility is not equivalent to knowledge far from it. To be competent is to have the right knowledge, but it is also and above all to adopt the right attitudes and put into practice the right skills depending on the situation. Let us clarify this definition for better understanding.

Self-training is not only training yourself, it is also being the actor of the training. Philippe Carre.

What is a skill?

Identifying the skills to be acquired is indeed the fundamental question for starting a relevant self-training plan. But before we start, let’s agree on the definition of the terms “skill” and “knowledge”. The interministerial dictionary offers the following definition:

Competence results from a combination of knowledge, know-how and know-how mobilized to act in an appropriate manner, faced with a given professional situation. It is assessable.

This first definition is not very far from that proposed by Afnor (FD X50-183):

Competence is the ability to implement knowledge, skills and behaviors in a performance situation.

However, it lacks the notion devaluation. This notion is fundamental, so we will use the first definition as a reference.

A skill is acquired through practice

Taking action is an essential condition. A skill is not only knowledge, it is also practice, know-how.

Take the case of a professional welder. He perfectly masters the use of his tools, he knows how to identify the materials to be joined, and chooses the most suitable technique, taking into account the potential risks.

A welder in the petrochemical industry is confronted with safety issues on a daily basis. He is competent, so he also knows how to assess the quality of his work.

What is knowledge?

The interministerial dictionary provides a clear and unequivocal definition on this subject:

Knowledge applies to theoretical and technical knowledge acquired through training, professional or extra-professional experience. Competence adds a practical dimension, the ability to apply knowledge in a very specific situation.

National Education sums it up pretty well. It defines the acquisition of a skill as follows:

  1. The competent person has the essential knowledge to exercise the required competence.
  2. It has the capacity to perform the tasks assigned to it.
  3. She is able to adopt the appropriate attitudes to face specific situations.

This definition is particularly interesting. It clearly dissociates the theoretical phase from the practical phase, and specifies for the latter the importance of having the right behavioral attitudes when it comes to taking action.

Being competent also means being able to adapt to new situations and new contexts in order to exercise one’s talent according to the rules of the art.

A concrete example of skill acquisition

All higher education teachers must be computer literate. The computer and internet higher education certificate, the C2I2, validates the required level.

We are going to use this example taken from the national education system to illustrate the previous definition.

Mastering information and communication technologies »

. This may seem like a vast program, but it is precisely the precision of knowledge, skills and abilities that will allow us to set the scope of said competence.

1. Knowledge to master

  • Knowledge relating to the skills listed in the repository of the IT & Internet “teacher” Certificate (C2I2).
  • The rights and duties related to the use of Information and Communication Technologies.

2. The teacher’s abilities

To be able to :

  • Design, prepare and implement teaching content and learning situations based on digital tools and resources.
  • Participate in education on the rights and duties related to the use of information and communication technologies.
  • Get involved in education for civic, ethical and responsible use of open digital networks on the Internet and their possible risks and dangers.
  • Use ICTs and open and distance learning tools to update knowledge.
  • Networking with collaborative work tools.

3. The attitudes to adopt

Observing an attitude:

  • Criticism of the information available.
  • Thoughtful and responsible in the use of interactive tools required of students.
  • He updates his knowledge and skills during his professional practice.

Infographic, definition of competence according to national education

Infographics, competence

Caption: Infographic, click on the image to enlarge…

To conclude

Even if the acquisition of knowledge represents an important part of the process of self-training, it is hardly sufficient to claim new skills. It is still necessary to know how to put them into practice and to have the capacity of adequate judgment to face new situations.

Practicing professionals will not be surprised by this finding. They know perfectly well that it is only after many hours of practice that they will be able to exercise their skills in the best conditions.

A useful thing….

For many years now, the computer tool has pushed the door of the company and imposes its rules on the vast majority of trades. Many professionals, whose job is not IT, are content to master a few basic functions of the tool to accomplish their task.

It is quite obvious that this basic level of knowledge is totally insufficient in a computerized society like ours today. The most far-sighted will easily understand that it is more than useful to acquire solid skills in this area to better master information technologies.

The C2I type certificates offered by the national education system for its students and teachers are particularly well designed. I can only invite the reader interested in the acquisition of skills of this type, to obtain the program of these certificates in order to prepare the framework of his self-study.

On this subject, see also


  • I need new skills

    You want to learn new skills. The need is real and certainly useful to develop your career plan. It is still necessary to identify the skills that you lack as well as the difficulty in obtaining them. Let’s see all this.


  • How to develop new skills

    Why do we decide to undertake a self-study program? Probably because we feel in a situation that does not completely satisfy us and we want to extend our range of skills. But which ones are we lacking? Let’s study a sieve to answer this question.



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See here the reference books of management and entrepreneurship. These additional works of the site, can be used within the framework of a self-training:

Reference books Management and Entrepreneurship

Trainer's toolkit bookThe trainer’s toolkit
Collection: BàO The Toolbox

by Fabienne Bouchut, Isabelle Cauden, Frédérique Cuisiniez

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Publisher: Eyrolles

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Copyright: &copy Alain FERNANDEZ 1998-2022 All rights reserved

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